Tipperary hurling great Jimmy Doyle passes away

Wing forward who won six All-Ireland titles was named on Team of the Millennium

The death has taken place in Thurles of the great Tipperary and Thurles Sarsfields hurler Jimmy Doyle at the age of 76. One of the most highly rated players in the history of the game he was also among the most accomplished, having assembled extraordinary career statistics of six All-Irelands, nine Munster medals, seven national leagues and eight Railway Cups.

Born in March 1939, Doyle was a key member of the great Tipperary side of the early 1960s, which won four All-Ireland titles in five years, 1961-65, and he was included in the both GAA’s Centenary Team and Team of the Millennium.

He also set records at under-age. In the 1954 All-Ireland minor final he kept goal for the county, who were beaten that year by Dublin. He went on to win three successive minor All-Irelands between 1955 and 1957, playing in the more familiar wing forward position. In 1956 he won a Harty Cup medal with Thurles CBS.

He was exceptionally gifted and relentlessly practised his technical skills. He was also blessed with pace and dauntless physical bravery. A slight man, he was subject to heavy physical attention throughout his career, picking up a litany of broken bones as well as disc problems in his back. He played in the 1961 All-Ireland with an ankle injury so bad he required six separate pain-killing injections before and during the match.

A winner of six All-Irelands between 1958 and 1971, Doyle also captained the successful Tipperary teams in 1962 and 1965. He was awarded the Texaco Hurler of the Year accolade in 1965.

Christy Ring once told Babs Keating that had Doyle the physique of either of them "there would have been no doubt about who was the best hurler ever".

A very popular as well as respected man, he was honoured by his home town of Thurles when a new link road was named after him three years ago.

Speaking to Brendan Fullam for the 1994 book Hurling Giants Jimmy Doyle summed up his feelings for the game he adorned in characteristically simple and generous terms.

“Hurling – you meet lovely people following the game and that’s what it’s all about. I have played on a lot of good players from every county and have great friends.”

Tipperary county board chairman Michael Bourke paid tribute to Doyle in a statement released late on Monday evening.

“The name of Jimmy Doyle will never and should never be forgotten. He was the ultimate sticks-man, a master of his craft not alone of his own age but for all ages,” said Bourke.

“He inspired countless hurlers who wanted to be Jimmy Doyle and who craved the genius he bore with such humility and grace. Tipperary and Thurles has lost one of its greatest sons the likes of whom we may never witness again.

“On behalf of Tipperary County Board we extend our heartfelt condolences to the extended Doyle family on the sad passing of their beloved Jimmy.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times